Lake Tahoe Christmas tree permit sales begin November 6

Submitted to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.– The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit announced the sale of Christmas tree permits for the Lake Tahoe Basin begins Monday, Nov. 6, 2023. Permits will be sold in-person only at the Forest Supervisor’s office in South Lake Tahoe at 35 College Drive. Permits cost $10 each(please bring cash only), with a limit of one permit per family or household. The Forest Supervisor’s office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., excluding federal holidays.

The LTBMU’s popular Christmas tree permit program began over 20 years ago as a way to offer families a traditional holiday experience while improving forest health by removing small diameter ladder fuels (vegetation that allows wildfire to climb from the forest floor into the treetops) from the forest. Since the program began,an average of 2,500 permits were sold each year. The LTBMU thanks everyone who participated in this successful program over the years.

“Next year, the permit program will be temporarily paused to allow saplings time to grow large enough to support a Christmas tree program in the future,” said Vegetation Management Staff Officer, Victor Lyon.

The limited cutting areas that are suitable for the Christmas tree program and have legal and safe areas to park during snow removal conditions, have been cleared of almost all suitable trees in prior years or are being treated by forest health and fuels reduction projects.

Lyon continued, “Given the limited number of permits requested to support the Every Kid Outdoors program, and our determination to support this program, we will find an appropriate location to continue to allow free tree cutting permits for fourth-grade students into the future.”

The LTBMU will also collaborate with nearby forests to provide information to those who usually cut trees in the Tahoe Basin on where they can cut Christmas trees on neighboring forests in 2024. LTBMU 2023 permits will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis during regular business hours.

Please arrive before 4 p.m. to allow time to process the permit before the office closes. Based on the pace of sales last year and the fact that permits did not sell out, there is no reason to arrive at the office first thing in the morning and stand in line. They anticipate 2,000 permits will be available.

This year,cutting will be limited to the following three areas: Fountain Place Road(1201)at the end of Oneidas Street off Pioneer Trail; Lower Barker Pass Road in Blackwood Canyon (15N38)off SR 89; and Baldwin Beach Road (1305)off SR 89. Maps will be provided at the time of permit purchase.

Permits must be purchased by the individual cutting the tree and are not transferable. Cutting under these permits will be allowed until December 31, to accommodate military families and others who may need to celebrate a delayed Christmas.

In support of the Every Kid Outdoors Program, the LTBMU will offer one free Christmas tree permit to fourth-grade students who present a valid EKO Pass. Students must be present to receive their permit and when cutting the tree. Visit the EKO website for more information and to obtain the EKO Pass.

Please comply with the following tree selection process to ensure forest health benefits. Permit holders may choose from a variety of pine, fir, or cedar trees. Select a tree that is less than six inches in diameter at the base of the tree and is within 10 feet of another green tree. Cut down the entire tree(not just the top)and leave a stump that is six inches or less above the ground. Scatter discarded branches away from roads, ditches, and culverts. Attach the tag to the tree, ensuring it remains visible and secure,before leaving the cutting area. Permit holders should follow permit guidelines for responsible collection, including not trespassing onto private property when entering or leaving National Forest cutting areas. Park legally with all four tires on the inside of the white fog line, do not block gates and be prepared to hike to the cutting area to find a tree. Keep in mind no off-road travel is allowed.

Weather conditions in the mountains are unpredictable and travel during winter weather can be dangerous due to wet and/or icy roads. Visitors should avoid cutting on wet, windy days as wind gusts may cause branches or trees to fall.Check the weather before heading out and always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Dress appropriately for cold weather conditions and be prepared for ice and snow. Carry tire chains, a shovel,and emergency supplies, including water, food, extra blankets,and a first-aid kit. Keep in mind, mobile devices may not work in some areas and develop an emergency plan in case you cannot call for help.

For online permits, check for nearby forests.

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